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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Fine Tuning Ethical Intuitionism

There are different varieties of Ethical (or Moral or Evolutionary) Intuitionism. Some are subject to more criticism than others. I am in the process of fine tuning my particular view of Ethical Intuitionism. I found a recent article by Jeff McMahan to be quite helpful ("Moral Intuition," in The Blackwell Guide to Ethical Theory, ed. Hugh LaFollette [2000],  92-110).

1. What is a moral intuition?

According to McMahan:


[It] is a spontaneous moral judgment, often concerning a particular act or agent, though an intuition may also have as its object a type of act or, less frequently, a more general moral rule or principle. In saying a moral intuition is a spontaneous judgment, I mean that it is not the result of conscious inferential reasoning. In the first instance at least, the allegiance the intuition commands is not based on an awareness of its relations to one's other beliefs. If one considers the act of torturing the cat, one judges immediately that, in the circumstances, this would be wrong. One does not need to consult one's other beliefs in order to arrive at this judgment. This kind of spontaneity, I should stress, is entirely compatible with the possibility that a fair amount of cognitive processing may be occuring beneath the surface of consciousness (pp. 93-94).

2. There is not a special organ or faculty that perceives moral facts.

Although some have held that ethical intuitions are the deliverances of a special organ or faculty of moral perception, typically understood as something like an inner eye that provides occult access to a noumenal realm of objective values (p. 94), I reject this notion. I don't believe that there is something like a sixth sense that is able to perceive moral facts.

3. Intuitions are not infallible.

4. Intuitions are biologically based.
But numerous considerations--such as the diversity of moral intuitions, the fact that people do often doubt and even repudiate certain of their intuitions, and the evident origin of some intutitions in social prejudice or self-interest--make it untenable to suppose that intuitions are direct and infallible perceptions of morality (pp. 94-95).



5. Intuitions may differ among people.
One piece of evidence for this is the surprising uniformity of our intuitions about particular cases. We have been impressed for so long by the claims of anthropologists, English professors, undergraduates, and others about the diversity of moral opinion that we are inclined to overlook how much agreement there actually is. Interestingly, what one finds is that moral disagreements tend to widen and intensify the more we abstract from particular cases and focus instead on matters of principle or theory. When the partisans of different schools of moral thought turn their attention to particular cases, there is far more intuitive agreement that their higher-level disputes would lead one to suspect (pp. 106-07).


There are several explanations for this. One is that our moral intuitions undoubtedly stem from numerous diverse sources: while some derive from biologically programmed dispositions that are largely uniform across the species, others are the products of cultural determinants, economic or social conditions, vagaries of individual character and circumstance, and so on. Given the heterogeneity of these sources, it is hardly surprising that there are conflicts (p. 109).

54 comments:

  1. I've always been unimpressed by WLC's argument for "objective morality"; he claims that there are objective morals, which we know intuitively. Any fool can see the fallacy: intuitions are not objective. By their very definition, they are subjective.

    We miss you, Ken!

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  2. Why carp just because they chose the wrong word? Rather than calling it moral intuition, call it innate objective morality, and your problem is solved.

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  3. Who's posting on Ken's behalf now?

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  4. I added myself to follow your blog. You are more than welcome to visit mine and become a follower if you want to.

    God Bless You :-)

    ~Ron

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  5. I was wondering the same as DWSmith... hadn't checked in for a few weeks following Ken's death as I thought the site was static. Nice to have a newer post, but would love to know who has done it, and if they plan to continue.

    Thanks,
    Howard Pepper

    P.S. for anyone else: I've begun posting regularly on my blog (linked via commenter name)and would love to get some good interaction going. My interests (and background) are very akin to Ken's, though I'm taking it a bit different direction.

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  6. Hi, I am from Australia.
    Please find some references which provide a unique Understanding of the basis of ethics, rightness and justice.

    http://www.dabase.org/p9rightness.htm

    http://www.fearnomorezoo.org/literature/observe_learn.php

    http://www.beezone.com/up/secretsofkingdomofgod.html

    http://www.adidam.org/teaching/aletheon/truth-life.aspx

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  7. Ken,

    Your post name caught my attention and I just wanted to help you understand better. Keep in mind, there is no such thing as an Ex-Christian because Christians don't Fall Away. People are not "De-Converted from Evangelical Christianity", they were simply never Christians. Its hard news at first but there is a promising outcome.

    This is not the true Scotsman fallacy either. There are fundamental criteria set by Christ Himself to determine who is, or who is not, a Christian. You have just not met that criteria. Essentially, you have never been saved. But actually, that is great news! Its not that it was a hit and miss, but that you never have yet been at bat yet. There is still time while you're alive.

    Its like calling myself a doctor without meeting the criteria to become a doctor (Scholastics, board approval, etc.) You are merely still in elementary school in this analogy. There is still time. Maybe you just gave up becoming a "doctor" and that is understandable because the "board" does not allow uneducated unrepentant evil people become a "doctor" in the first place.

    Repentance comes BEFORE knowledge of truth, not after: 2 Timothy 2:24-26

    And as far as this recent post here, I have just one question. How do you know that your reasoning about this or ANYTHING is valid?

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  8. @Dan,

    You do realize Ken passed away already some time ago, right?

    Also, there is such a thing as a Christian becoming unconvinced of his faith. It has happened countless times, but you refuse to come around and admit it.

    If complexity requires a designer, and a more complex designer at that, then that means man's complexity requires a designer but god's complexity does not. This is a contradiction.

    Bodily ascension to heaven is a flat earth idea. Seriously, think about it: during the "rapture," how do people in Antarctica fly up to heaven at the same people in Alaska do? They end up flying in opposite directions!

    Also, your Bible has 2 genealogies of Jesus, one in Matthew and the other in Luke. They differ widely in length and in what names show up on it. (Luke doesn't even have Jesus being of the royal line.)

    Also, in Matthew, Jesus was born before Herod died in 4 B.C. while Luke has him born during Quirinius' census, which started in 6-7 A.D. Another contradiction.

    Matt 16:28 specifically states that the end times were in the generation of the 1st Century.

    Judas Iscariot dies in the Gospels by hanging himself. In Acts he died by having his intestines gored out.

    Let's see -- anything else I could add?

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  10. Infidel,

    >>You do realize Ken passed away already some time ago, right?

    No it says it was posted by him at 4am. Is that spirit time? I thought eternity was timeless. If true, then I am too late and Ken understands exactly what I am talking about this very moment. It may be too late for him but all of you still have an opportunity

    >>Also, there is such a thing as a Christian becoming unconvinced of his faith.

    According to who? You? You're merely a subjective opinion. [Insert the "Doctor" analogy here.] How do you know that your reasoning about this or ANYTHING is valid?

    >>Bodily ascension to heaven is a flat earth idea. Seriously, think about it: during the "rapture," how do people in Antarctica fly up to heaven at the same people in Alaska do? They end up flying in opposite directions!

    Thanks for making me laugh. That is a good one. Can I quote you? I certainly do not think this "problem" of your is a problem for an omniscient, omnipotent being. You do understand the God created the universe in 6 literal days, don't you? No one is "convinced" through man's intellect.

    From an older post of mine "In fact, that cannot be evidence for God if he is a naturalist, or an atheist. Because according to him its not possible to have evidence for God. If he is in fact an atheist in terms of his views on reality, then all of these things must be reinterpreted so they are regimented, or will conform to, will comport with that man's naturalism, or atheism."

    >>Let's see -- anything else I could add?

    Well so far all you have added to the conversations were fallacious. Your verses only serves your purpose but you do not take into account the rest of the Bible, this is called a Taxi-cab Fallacy- A premise cannot be dismissed like a hack once you have arrived at your desired destination. Fallacies do not warrant a response, please try again

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  11. @Dan

    I was a born again Christian, accepted the Holy Spirit at 14, was baptized twice, and I believed whole heartedly in Jesus. And still do! The only difference now is that I'm an atheist.

    So you see, people can fall out of faith, or to be more accurate, when held up to scrutiny faith seems to have a way of failing you.

    So it is sort of narrow minded and condescending to automatically assume every Christian who is now a nonbeliever was never a genuine Christian. You haven't walked a mile in their shoes, so you're just being judgmental, and that seems, very un-Christ like to me.

    At any rate, if you want to learn about my journey from belief to non-belief I invite you over to my humble blog:

    www.advocatusatheist.blogspot.com

    Peace and chicken grease, brotha'!

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  12. Tristan,

    >>I was a born again Christian,

    You see? Right there, you have violated what Christ determines to be a Christian. (1 John 2:19) As I have said a hundred times there is no such thing as an Ex-Christian because Christians don't Fall Away. Period. I feel for you but you must not continue to call yourself a Christian because you have never been one yet. There is still time though. My heart aches for you.

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  13. It seems strangely fitting that the final comments on this blog should be yet another round of "I know better than you do about what you were and what happened to you."

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  14. Mocking Michael,

    >>It seems strangely fitting that the final comments on this blog should be yet another round of "I know better than you do about what you were and what happened to you."

    Does that include even your final comment? :p

    Oh and, how do you know that your reasoning about this or ANYTHING is valid?

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  15. Oh, please.

    If you open your response by making fun of my name, then I feel completely justified in assuming that you are not making an honest effort to argue in good faith. Come on.

    And I am not arguing the relative merits of Christianity, or the requirements for being a True Christian(tm) or being Truly Saved(c). Even if I were making an argument, your request for a detailed discussion of the philosophical underpinnings of the use of reason as a tool for thought is basically just a giant Red Herring. Again, this does not look like an argument made in good faith; it looks like an attempt to set up enough of a smokescreen that the holes in your actual argument, later on, won't be so glaringly obvious.

    But I wasn't making an argument. I was simply making an observation: you posted here, directing your comments to our deceased host*, to tell him that no matter what he believed or experienced, he was never really a Christian. This is an accusation that has appeared with some frequency in the history of this blog, and it generally isn't terribly well received.

    For one thing, it's nearly impossible to argue with. If it's axiomatic for you that True Christians Do Not Fall Away, then all I can do is suggest that you need to recheck your axioms, because that is in direct conflict with my experience of reality. Any further argument on the topic basically goes back and forth between "But your observation must be wrong, because axiom", and "Your axiom must be wrong, because observation." It's tedious and ultimately fruitless.

    Secondarily, though, for you to come here and type that comment at all requires you to believe that you can do a better job of discerning the truth of a man's life based on a handful of writings on the Internet, than he can having lived it. Whether you're right or wrong in your assertion, making the assertion at all displays a monumental arrogance; it is, to my mind, the sin of Pride.

    Michael Mock

    * I don't think anyone answered you earlier, but apparently Dr. Pulliam wrote a lot of his material in advance, and scheduled it to publish automatically later on. This is why the several of the last posts - the ones which published after his death - seem to be in dire need of further editing.

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  17. Michael,

    My comment to your glib mockery was very appropriate. Get off that horse and down to reality.

    >>Even if I were making an argument, your request for a detailed discussion of the philosophical underpinnings of the use of reason as a tool for thought is basically just a giant Red Herring.

    Not so. This is not the true Scotsman fallacy either. Like I said, there are fundamental criteria set by Christ Himself to determine who is, or who is not, a Christian. This is not a Red Herring at all. Its really the point of all of this.

    There is still time for you while you're alive. For Ken, it may be too late but who knows, in his fright to face death alone He may have repented and called out to Jesus in his last days. Only God know the actual list who is in Hell or not. I just don't want anyone to misunderstand or take their chances. I do remember a thief on the cross next to Jesus who was soundly saved because of his belief. I pray Ken is saved. I will be more then happy to hug him when I see him again. That will be a great day!!

    I will say it again though repentance comes BEFORE knowledge of truth, not after: 2 Timothy 2:24-26

    >>Whether you're right or wrong in your assertion, making the assertion at all displays a monumental arrogance; it is, to my mind, the sin of Pride.

    Speaking of pride. And as far as this recent post here, I have just one question. How do you know that your reasoning about this or ANYTHING is valid Michael?

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  18. "How do you know that your reasoning about this or ANYTHING is valid Michael?"

    Explain to me how that's relevant - to anything I've said so far - and I'll make an attempt to answer it. Or, to put that another way, how is that question not a huge waste of time? At the very least, can you phrase it another way - maybe I'm just misunderstanding what sort of answer you're looking for.

    One way or another, you and I appear to be talking past each other. You seem to think that I am making or supporting an argument which - as I've attempted to explain already - I have no real interest in exploring yet again. Yes, I've heard several variations on what you have to say; no, I didn't find them convincing.

    What I was interested in pointing out - and I'm basically reiterating what Tristan said, above me - is that {coming here to tell someone that they were never really what they spent years of their life being} is fundamentally arrogant and disrespectful. No matter how politely you word it - and your wording was very polite - the judgement itself remains rude to a degree where you essentially cannot express it without being an asshole. You say, "Like I said, there are fundamental criteria set by Christ Himself to determine who is, or who is not, a Christian," so perhaps you feel that your condescension is justified. In that case, do you also feel justified in going around to believers who do not meet Christ's Fundamental Criteria and telling them that they aren't really Christians? If not, why not? Surely they're in at least as much danger as unbelievers, and probably more - they think they're saved, after all.

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  19. And just in case I wasn't adequately clear on the point, I am not saying that you, yourself, are an asshole. I'm merely trying to point out that what you are doing here is an asshole behavior. I have no idea what you might be like in any other context.

    Believe it or not, this is actually meant to be helpful. When I'm being a prick - and I'm sure you'll be shocked to hear this, but it does happen - I prefer to have people point it out to me, so I can stop being a prick... or at least try to be less of one.

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  20. Michael,

    In that case, do you also feel justified in going around to believers who do not meet Christ's Fundamental Criteria and telling them that they aren't really Christians?

    Yes! Perfect love is a constant confronter. It takes far more love to confront then to ignore the situation.

    >>Believe it or not, this is actually meant to be helpful.

    So are my words. "If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our bodies. If they will perish, let them perish with our arms about their knees. Let no one go there unwarned and unprayed for." ~C.H. Spurgeon

    >>When I'm being a prick - and I'm sure you'll be shocked to hear this, but it does happen - I prefer to have people point it out to me, so I can stop being a prick... or at least try to be less of one.

    I can see how you might think like this, I just wished you understood my motives. It reminds me of something I saw in a movie.

    Remember in Pulp Fiction when Vincent (John Travolta) said to Wolf "A please would be nice."

    Wolf said "Get it straight buster - I'm not here to say please, I'm here to tell you what to do and if self-preservation is an instinct you possess you'd better do it and do it quick! I'm here to help - if my help's not appreciated then lotsa luck, gentlemen."

    Vincent: "I don't mean any disrespect, I just don't like people barking orders at me."

    The Wolf: "If I'm curt with you it's because time is a factor. I think fast, I talk fast and I need you guys to act fast if you wanna get out of this. So, pretty please... with sugar on top. Clean the car!"

    and scene.

    So if I am curt with you Michael, it's because time really is the factor and you could die tomorrow.

    So pretty please with sugar on top, seek Jesus.

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  21. "So pretty please with sugar on top, seek Jesus."

    Heard and acknowledged. It's not really a possibility for me - though to be honest, I'm not sure I could explain why not, in a way that would make any sort of sense to you - but I do appreciate the thought.

    "So if I am curt with you Michael, it's because time really is the factor and you could die tomorrow."

    Granting your assumptions, that makes perfect sense. But I think it's also worth noting that there are situations where even when time is short, haste is counterproductive.

    ::shrugs:: In my case, it doesn't ultimately make any difference how you present it. But I'd be quite surprised if there aren't cases where the faster-but-harsher approach serves not to bring people to the Gospel, but to drive them away from it. Granted, that's not a particularly rational reaction in terms of a cost/benefit analysis, but it's a very human sort of irrationality.

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  22. Michael,

    >>But I'd be quite surprised if there aren't cases where the faster-but-harsher approach serves not to bring people to the Gospel, but to drive them away from it.

    Are you claiming that I have the power to persuade people out of their presuppositions? If that were the case, there would be no such thing as a non believer. That is not how it works here. I am to rebuke, warn, love you but God and you will have to be the ones to change that wickedness inside of you. You also CHOOSE to be a slave to Sin. I hope and pray though this, or any, conversation that God softens your heart but we are not salesman here.

    As a Christian, its my position that God has revealed Himself to all mankind so that we can know for certain who He is. Those who deny His existence are suppressing the truth in unrighteousness to avoid accountability to God. It is the ultimate act of rebellion against Him and reveals the professing atheist's contempt toward God.

    I have referenced a past post many times about this subject. Its an extremely interesting lecture and I took quite a bit from it. You will not probably listen to all 7 parts, although I wished you would, but you might want to check out 4:45 of part 7.

    I am not here to win signatures of my product called God. I am here to warn you, in love, that you are heading for a very deep cliff that you will not be able to get out of. Which you are. Forgive me if I am pushy, to knock you away from that proverbial cliff fall. We can lick our wounds later just please understand that one point. (Philippians 1:15-18) Our conversation is not out of hate but love. So, if I shake you a little, its to wake you up to reality here.

    Take care of yourself, and don't die before figuring all this out. :7)

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  23. "Are you claiming that I have the power to persuade people out of their presuppositions?"

    Not at all. On the other hand, it seems to me that you probably think your words serve some useful purpose. Otherwise, you might as well stay home and let God sort it out, no? So however you characterize the purpose of your evangelism, the parts of it that fall to you can still be more or less effective based on your approaches and behaviors.

    "As a Christian, its my position that God has revealed Himself to all mankind so that we can know for certain who He is. Those who deny His existence are suppressing the truth in unrighteousness to avoid accountability to God. It is the ultimate act of rebellion against Him and reveals the professing atheist's contempt toward God."

    That's not an uncommon view. I daresay it's even scriptural, though that's not my area of expertise. However, and I say this with no malice, it's also another bit of the sort of arrogance that makes unbelievers wonder what color the sky is in your world.

    It's... well, it's also a bit of a conversation stopper. Because the thing is, I really don't expect you to believe me when I tell you that it's wrong. Still, for the record:

    That doesn't describe my experience as an unbeliever, or that of any other unbeliever I've ever known. It's not even something where if I look at it from another perspective and squint a bit, I can see how it might be right. It's simply inaccurate - so much so that it isn't even really insulting, but rather laughable. The closest equivalent I can think of is if I were to tell you that it's perfectly obvious that you refuse to acknowledge the existence of Zeus because you don't want to face His judgement.

    More to the point, it sets up a situation where, according to you, there's no such thing as an atheist. There are only true Christians, false Christians, and people who are aware of God's Truth, but reject it out of willfulness, fear, or rebellion. There is no possibility that God has revealed Himself to the world in a way that may not be as clear to everyone else as it is to you. There's no possibility that someone might fail to believe simply because they don't see any reason to believe.

    And that puts you right back in the position of telling me that I cannot possibly be what I am. Which, again, is why I use the word "arrogance". You're asking, in essence, "Who are you gonna believe? Me, or your own lyin' eyes?"

    But let's suppose, for a moment, that you're right. Let's suppose that I actually know that what Christianity teaches is true, and that (for whatever reason), I'm in rebellion against those teachings. If that's the case, I tell you in all honesty, I'm completely unaware of it. I must be in a state of denial so profound that... well, that for all practical purposes I might as well be the unbeliever that I say I am.

    I'm not a Christian because on a fundamental level, Christianity makes no sense to me. It neither reflects nor describes my experience or my awareness. And when you tell me that I cannot possibly disbelieve, that I must be in rebellion, it only reinforces my impression that Christianity doesn't know what it's talking about.

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  24. Michael,

    >>Otherwise, you might as well stay home and let God sort it out, no?

    Well, admittedly, it is for selfish reasons to feel I have value, but yes, its all up to you and God. My argument is not intended to be convincing though, I am merely commanded to speak the truth, 'convincing' is out of my hands. To stand idly by and watch people jump off the proverbial cliff is not my MO that is for sure. Maybe that is why God instructs us to preach the Word. To feel a sense of worth. He may use us for His purpose though.

    >>The closest equivalent I can think of is if I were to tell you that it's perfectly obvious that you refuse to acknowledge the existence of Zeus because you don't want to face His [judgment].

    That is because you believe that God is just a figment of, actually, billions of peoples imagination. Nothing can be further from the truth. God is the Creator of the entire universe, even if you choose not to believe it.

    >>More to the point, it sets up a situation where, according to you, there's no such thing as an atheist.

    That sounds like a Ray Comfort book.

    >>There is no possibility that God has revealed Himself to the world in a way that may not be as clear to everyone else as it is to you.

    I would hope you would be intellectually honest, and concede that an omniscient, omnipotent being could reveal things to us, such that we can be certain of them. Otherwise...

    >>There's no possibility that someone might fail to believe simply because they don't see any reason to believe.

    That reminds me of a cartoon I saw.

    >>You're asking, in essence, "Who are you gonna believe? Me, or your own lyin' eyes?"

    Well, a point that needs to be made is our hearts are deceitfully wicked (Jeremiah 17:9_), we are not to listen to it (Proverbs 3:5-6) The Bible instructs you to not even listen to me (1 John 2:27)

    >>But let's suppose, for a moment, that you're right.

    Now that is a great path to be on :7)

    >> If that's the case, I tell you in all honesty, I'm completely unaware of it. I must be in a state of denial so profound that... well, that for all practical purposes I might as well be the unbeliever that I say I am.

    Yes, but you cannot say that you are not in control of that. Its not a poor helpless Atheists by any stretch. God was clear that whoever calls Him, He will manifest Himself to them. Again, listen to 4:45 of part 7 of that lecture.

    [to be cont'd]

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  25. >>I'm not a Christian because on a fundamental level, Christianity makes no sense to me. I'm not a Christian because on a fundamental level, Christianity makes no sense to me. It neither reflects nor describes my experience or my awareness. And when you tell me that I cannot possibly disbelieve, that I must be in rebellion, it only reinforces my impression that Christianity doesn't know what it's talking about.

    I understand. Again, as I was saying to Ken, that repentance comes BEFORE knowledge of truth, not after: 2 Timothy 2:24-26.

    "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord." ~ James 1:5-7

    “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.” Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?” (1 Corinthians 1: 18-20)

    “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2: 14)

    Just understand your argument is not with me, it is with Scripture. Time will tell if you will take this foolishly, or not.

    "A fool takes no pleasure in understanding but only in expressing his opinion."~ Proverbs 18:2

    I am rooting for you, Michael.

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  26. I understand, and as I said earlier, I do appreciate your concern. Nevertheless, you subscribe to a view that insists that I must, by nature of my unbelief, be either lying or delusional. There really isn't anything for either of us to add to that.

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  27. Michael,

    >> Nevertheless, you subscribe to a view that insists that I must, by nature of my unbelief, be either lying or delusional.

    Don't forget, without presupposing God, the position of the atheist is reduced to absurdity too.

    Again, I am not saying that atheists do not reason, all I am saying is that they have no basis for assuming that their reasoning is valid, yet they make that assumption.

    Salvation is not just for the next life Michael - Not only did Christ's death and resurrection save souls for eternity, it saves our reasoning now. Again, I beg you to repent and turn from rejecting the God you know exists, and accept the free gift of Jesus Christ's payment for your sins, so that you might be saved from Hell, spend an eternity with God, AND have a firm foundation for your reasoning NOW.

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  28. "Again, I beg you to repent and turn from rejecting the God you know exists..."

    Stop there. I don't know He exists. And as long as you keep insisting that I must know, when in fact I don't, there's nothing for us to say to each other. You say it's between me and God? That's fine. Leave it there.

    Now, if God wants to manifest himself... In fact, let's make this more direct. Holy God of the Old and New Covenants, I call upon you, as I sit here typing, to manifest to me in manner that even one so fallen as I cannot mistake. I implore you to lift the scales from my eyes, soften my heart to your grace and understanding, extend your eternal forgiveness to my sins, and lift me into everlasting life - or at least set my feet on the path. It's true, I don't feel your presence or see any reason to believe that you exist - or, more to the point, that you take an active role in the world. But if you do, and if there's any possibility of eternal salvation for me, please prove me wrong. Surprise me with your presence, I beg and implore you. I apologize for anything I have done or left undone that might have found disfavor in your eyes; I declare myself wholly unworthy of the gift I ask to receive.

    There. Naturally, if He responds - and you've told me that He will, that He always does - I'll let you know. Otherwise, I'll feel reasonably justified in continuing not to believe. It is, as you say, in God's hands.

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  29. Three days have passed since I posted that. In those three days, I have: gone to work; spent time with my family; done some writing; updated my status on Facebook, and used it to send hopes and sympathies to some friends in Australia who had family in New Zealand[1]; put the boys to bed so my wife could grade papers; fed the cats; and performed pretty much all the other elements of the ordinary course of my life.

    I have not heard back from God.

    This puts me right back where I was when we started this exchange: I have no reason to believe. Either God isn't out there, or He doesn't answer. I'd suggest a third possibility - maybe I'm just incapable of hearing Him - but dude, He's supposed to be all-powerful. An all-powerful being could make itself heard if it wanted to, without even making an effort.

    If I sound unsurprised and a bit cynical, that's because this isn't the first time I've tried to put these sorts of claims to the test. Oh, they're sincere attempts - as sincere as I can make them. It would be amazingly cool if the Almighty did drop by (in whatever form, even a whisper in the ear would do) to confirm a promise of eternal life. But so far, it hasn't happened.

    [1] As you probably know, they had a rather massive earthquake just recently.

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  30. Michael,

    >>I have not heard back from God.

    How do you know that you haven't.

    What if someone, your wife, wrote you love letters and then you never read them? How would that make her feel? Would you consider your wife not there?

    God wrote you 66 love letters, called the Bible, and He wants you to read them. He is speaking to you at this very moment. Are you willing to listen? (John 14:21)

    >>An all-powerful being could make itself heard if it wanted to, without even making an effort.

    He already has, that is how you know Him by name. You deny it. Van Til said it this way "If God's authority must be authorized or validated by the authority of human reasoning and assessment, then human thinking is more authoritative the God Himself-in which case God would not have final authority, and indeed would no longer be God."

    >>If I sound unsurprised and a bit cynical, that's because this isn't the first time I've tried to put these sorts of claims to the test.

    That is where you went wrong. (Deuteronomy 6:16, Luke 4:12)

    No, we must approach God with a broken and contrite heart. (Psalm 51:17) You cannot "try Jesus" on and expect good results. We must willingly submit FULLY to Him..forever.

    >>It would be amazingly cool if the Almighty did drop by (in whatever form, even a whisper in the ear would do) to confirm a promise of eternal life.

    A sinner without being washed of sins cannot be in the presence of God because he/she would burst into flames. (Genesis 32:30) God is perfect so we must be perfect to be in His presence. Without the mediator we would perish (1 Timothy 2:5) Many want to see proof of God, but as sinners, they would all perish so God stays away, for their own good. Look what happened to Saul (now Paul) he was blinded by God's holy presence of light.

    What if you were in one of those people trapped in that New Zealand earthquake? Its not too late for you. Time is too short to not figure all this out though. Tomorrow can be your day.

    Now, its time to repent and submit to fully to Jesus. Please, at least think about it.

    ReplyDelete
  31. "God wrote you 66 love letters, called the Bible, and He wants you to read them."

    You think I've never read the Bible? Really? Well, you're wrong. I've read it. I just didn't find it persuasive in terms of establishing the Truth of Christianity. The individual stories are fascinating... as stories. As a single, coherent work... it just doesn't come across as that unified or coherent.

    "He is speaking to you at this very moment."

    Then He needs to speak up, because I can't hear Him.

    "He already has, that is how you know Him by name."

    Crap. I know what to say because I was raised Episcopalian, and because Christianity saturates American culture. If I'd been raised in the Amazon among the Aymara, I'd know how to propitiate the local place-spirits instead. If I'd been raised in Saudi Arabia, I'd know that there is no God but God, and Mohammed is his prophet.

    "You cannot 'try Jesus' on and expect good results."

    Again, crap. The burning bush. Moses in the wilderness. Whoever-it-was wrestling with the angel. St. Paul on the road to Damascus. Thomas needing to touch the wounds.

    Accounts of the Almighty making his presence and wishes known in a truly clear and unmistakable fashion are all through the Bible. So are accounts of people asking for unambiguous proof. You said it yourself: "God was clear that whoever calls Him, He will manifest Himself to them."

    Well, I tested that claim, and I found it wanting.

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  32. Continuing...

    "That [putting the claim to the test] is where you went wrong."

    I'm sorry, no. I call Shenanigans. If you'd really believed that, you'd have said so three days ago when I called for Him. I did exactly what you told me to do, and it didn't work.

    Look, I don't know you. I don't know your true motivations, the state of your heart, or really anything about you except what I've read in the last dozen or two posts. So I really hope that what I'm about to say is wrong when it comes to you.

    But I've had this conversation before. And no matter what I do by way of calling on God, when he doesn't answer it's always my fault. The details don't matter; it's axiomatic. You (or at least everyone else I've ever had this conversation with) seem mechanically incapable of admitting that you might be wrong about this. I try it, it doesn't work, you make excuses after the fact. It's unutterably tiresome.

    Moreover, your business here is pretty well done. I mean, you've delivered the Good News. You've instructed me to beg God for mercy. I have begged God to extend His Grace to me. I'm beginning to think that you continue this not out of concern for my soul - a matter which is now firmly between me and any supreme being which might exist - but because you desperately need to prove that you're right. Or, at the very least, that you weren't actually wrong.

    "A sinner without being washed of sins cannot be in the presence of God because he/she would burst into flames."

    Again, I call Shenanigans. One way or another - Jesus or the Holy Spirit - it's still God who's supposed to be washing away our sins. If He can't do that without setting people on fire, that's kind of a problem.

    "Look what happened to Saul (now Paul) he was blinded by God's holy presence of light."

    So what? You think I wouldn't take that - what is it, a couple of decades of Earthly blindness? - in exchange for eternal life in paradise? At the risk of being crass, it's a bargain at the price. For that matter, if God's presence caused me to spontaneously combust and die on the spot, but still got me into Heaven, it would still be a bargain.

    I just don't see any reason to believe that it works that way. Christianity makes no sense to me. It doesn't resonate, for lack of a better word.

    So let me suggest an alternate theory (and feel free to ignore this if you're not a Calvinist): Maybe I'm just not one of the Elect. In that case, by definition, I never have been and never will be. Maybe God doesn't answer me because He has known since before I was born that I was predestined to spend eternity in Hell.

    ReplyDelete
  33. You postulated, "biologically programmed dispositions that are largely uniform across the species . . ."

    Biologically programmed behavior is seldom uniform across any species. Anything more complicated than a reflex reaction is likely to be strong in some individuals and weak or absent in others. Even something as basic as the sex drive is totally absent in some people. Regarding morality, there are people who lack any empathy. There are so many so-called psychopathic people that in my opinion, the condition has be considered normal. I mean normal in the biological sense, even though most of us find it shocking or evil.

    Even if morality is based on biology (which I suppose is the case) we would still expect an enormous variety of moral systems. That is what we find. It is no more surprising than finding a tremendous range of body sizes, physical strength, longevity, sexual behavior, diet, or any other trait.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Good for you, Michael. There is no more reason to believe in God than there is to believe in fairies.

    ReplyDelete
  35. Ken,


    “If one considers the act of torturing the cat, one judges immediately that, in the circumstances, this would be wrong.”

    >>>Sounds like innate forms. How can an empiricist believe in innate forms? Locke was consistent to assert his tabula rasa.

    “I should stress, is entirely compatible with the possibility that a fair amount of cognitive processing may be occuring beneath the surface of consciousness (pp. 93-94).”

    >>>Is this an affirmation of the reality of abstraction?

    “Although some have held that ethical intuitions are the deliverances of a special organ or faculty of moral perception….”

    >>I.E. innate forms. If no then you’re back to square one then how you perceive the moral abstraction.

    “Intuitions are biologically based.”

    >>>If thinking is just chemistry, how can the motions of one side of the brain be ‘true’ and the motions of the other side be ‘false’? The data produced by the same chemical laws here disagrees.

    But if all this is merely ‘manual,’ why cannot animals enter this field? Many of them have bodily parts almost as complicated as ours, and their chemistry is equally good.

    Gordon H. Clark, Thales to Dewey (Unicoi, Tennesse.: The Trinity Foundation, 1957, Fourth edition 2000), 376

    “If thought is simply the product of the brain, no doubt it cannot contradict nature; but then on this basis no thought can contradict nature, and insanity is as natural as any other state of mind. If all thought is thus natural, there is no logical reason to believe that some thoughts, ideas of dialectical materialism rather than of absolute idealism, are more natural, more true, or more valuable, than others.”

    ReplyDelete
  36. Canadian Atheist,

    "There is no more reason to believe in God than there is to believe in fairies."

    The empirical evidence for the existence of God and the divinity of the Biblical Canon: Fulfilled prophecy: especially in the book of Daniel:

    http://olivianus.thekingsparlor.com/textual-criticism/how-do-we-know-which-holy-book-is-the-right-one-10-arguments-for-the-divinity-of-the-christian-revelation-by-drake

    The primary excuse to reject this evidence, the maccabean theory of the dating of Daniel, refuted here:

    https://eternalpropositions.wordpress.com/2011/12/25/the-dating-of-the-book-of-daniel-the-conservative-theory-defended-the-liberal-maccabean-theory-refuted-in-gleason-archer-ed-drake/

    ReplyDelete
  37. Hi, Drake, and welcome.

    You won't find much activity around here, I'm afraid. Dr. Pulliam passed away in October of 2010, and while the blog itself remains (and comments, obviously, are still open), most of the regular commenters have gone elsewhere.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Guys,there is a real danger from Islam and there is a Christian blog that has very good articles on the history and theology of Islam,it is antisharia.com.Check out:

    "Dara Shikoh,Moghul Prince of India and Sufi,was Executed in 1659 by his brother Emperor Aurangzeb,as an Apostate of Islam"

    http://www.antisharia.com/2012/04/16/dara-shikohmoghul-prince-of-india-and-sufiwas-executed-in-1659-by-his-brother-emperor-aurangzebas-an-apostate-of-islam/

    "In the Koran Muhammad can not do Miracles but Jesus can"

    http://www.antisharia.com/2011/01/29/in-the-koran-muhammad-can-not-do-miracles-but-jesus-can/

    "The Koran calls Jews Prophet-Killers Many Times,makes a Universal Curse on them,all of which produces Judeophobia"

    http://www.antisharia.com/2011/04/22/the-koran-calls-jews-prophet-killers-many-timesmakes-a-universal-curse-on-themall-of-which-produces-judeophobia/

    ReplyDelete
  39. And this is relevant how, exactly?

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  40. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  41. Check out www.unbelievablechristianity.com
    and http://blog.unbelievablechristianity.com.

    Unbelievable Christianity ≠ Believable Christ.

    ReplyDelete
  42. An interesting post. Also, a thing to look into might be the contrast between the consequentialist intuitionism of W.D. Ross and the deontological understanding by G.E. Moore. Which do you think holds more validity?

    ReplyDelete
  43. Pardon my confusion, but if Ken has passed on, how is there still someone posting under his name on his blog?

    Thank you.

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  44. To clarify: http://dead-logic.blogspot.com/2010/10/dr-ken-pulliam-is-dead-at-age-50.html#disqus_thread is dated "SATURDAY, OCTOBER 30, 2010," and says Ken has passed on.

    http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/2010/10/dr-ken-pulliam-is-dead.html#disqus_thread also dated the same says the following:

    Dr. Ken Pulliam is Dead
    By John W. Loftus at 10/30/2010

    However, "SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 28, 2010," a post, titled "Fine Tuning Ethical Intuitionism," was "Posted by Ken Pulliam at 4:00 AM," which is AFTER he passed on.

    So, please pardon my confusion - and no disrespect or insult is meant, but how, then is Ken able to continue to post, after he has passed on -or, alternatively, who, instead is posting under his name (and how)?

    Thank you.//

    ReplyDelete
  45. To clarify: http://dead-logic.blogspot.com/2010/10/dr-ken-pulliam-is-dead-at-age-50.html#disqus_thread is dated "SATURDAY, OCTOBER 30, 2010," and says Ken has passed on.

    http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/2010/10/dr-ken-pulliam-is-dead.html#disqus_thread also dated the same says the following:

    Dr. Ken Pulliam is Dead
    By John W. Loftus at 10/30/2010

    However, "SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 28, 2010," a post, titled "Fine Tuning Ethical Intuitionism," was "Posted by Ken Pulliam at 4:00 AM," which is AFTER he passed on.

    So, please pardon my confusion - and no disrespect or insult is meant, but how, then is Ken able to continue to post, after he has passed on -or, alternatively, who, instead is posting under his name (and how)?

    Thank you.//

    ReplyDelete
  46. It's actually quite easy to write blog posts in advance, and schedule them to go up later - even much later. Ken was apparently in the habit of doing this. (In fact, if you compare the posts that auto-published after his death with the ones from before, you can see several places where he clearly intended to go back and expand on his points, polish his text, and/or add additional thoughts before the scheduled publication date arrived.)

    That's not to say that it wasn't an extremely creepy experience at the time, though. But that's where the discrepancy in dates come from.

    ReplyDelete
  47. Michael,
    You have the patience of Job for enduring that batshit crazy "Dan t" dude so patiently. Talk about self-deluded with a messiah complex. I was a practicing christian for almost 40 years until I literally awoke one Saturday morning in Nov. of 2009 and realized the Jesus story made absolutely no sense to me anymore. Just none. My heart-felt "relationship" with Jesus simply was gone, just like that.
    When you walk out of the closet of religion into the clarity of rational thought, you can never go back. Never.

    ReplyDelete
  48. This man is an excellent example of people who have only received the 1st half of being Born Again which is water baptism for repentance. The second half is receiving the Baptism of Jesus, the first occurrence was on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2). We all must have our own experience of or our personal Day of Pentecost when, like the disciples on the Day of Pentecost received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. Without the Baptism of the Holy Spirit with the proof of the “signs following” there is no personal relationship with Jesus through the Holy Spirit and sooner or later like this Ken Pulliam a person runs out of “self” and crashes after all the worthless years of so-called studies in so-called Baptist colleges. Tell him to contact me so he can have the exciting Christian Life described in the New Testament with the Holy Spirit of signs, wonders & miracles. Without the Baptism of the Holy Spirit there is no personal relationship with God. That is what he was robbed of by his Baptist teaching. This is the reason why James warns, “Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, for you know that we who teach shall be judged with greater strictness (Jas. 3: 1). All of those lost years can be turned around when he has his eyes opened by the Holy Spirit. There is still time for him to repent and receive what was stolen from him. He is described best by Jesus when He explained why He spoke in Parables in Matthew 13: 13 – 17 & explained Isaiah 6: 9 – 10. Without the Baptism of Holy Spirit with the Signs Following he is spiritually blind and spiritually deaf and he cannot comprehend the truth of and importance of having his own personal day of Pentecost.
    Gordon Williams http://gordwilliams.com/

    ReplyDelete
  49. ::sigh:: The Baptism of Holy Spirit™ hasn't done much for your perceptiveness, has it?

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Very classy to spam a man's blog who died a while back. Please repent.

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